3,2,1: A look at former Arizona Wildcats quarterback Matt Scott and his NFL future
By the time the Indianapolis Colts select Mr. Irrelevant at pick No. 254 in the NFL Draft on Saturday, former Arizona quarterback Matt Scott will know his NFL home.
It’s been quite the path to the pros for the signal caller.
Scott came to Arizona a highly touted four-star recruit from Corona, Calif. As a sophomore in 2009, the starting job was his. But by week three, former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops had handed the reins to Nick Foles.
So Scott sat behind Foles for the rest of that season, had some spot start duty for an injured Foles in 2010 and then redshirted the 2011 season. That ended up being a masterful decision, and had he not made it, we might not be talking about Scott as a legitimate NFL prospect right now.
Instead, he was an All-Pac-12 quarterback after passing for 3,620 yards and 27 touchdowns and leading Arizona to its first bowl win since 2008.
“Matt’s got a really interesting case of a player, especially in today’s NFL, with the athletic upside that he brings to the table,” said Shane P. Hallam of NFLDraftCountdown.com. “It’s one of those things you can’t really teach, you can’t really expand upon for NFL quarterbacks. He caught a lot of buzz about a month ago and I think he has a shot to go early fourth round.”
The first round of the Draft airs today at 5 p.m., the second and third rounds on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and the final four rounds on Saturday at ll a.m. on ESPN.
Here’s a look at Scott’s NFL future:
Three reasons why his NFL future is bright
Dual-threat quarterbacks have become the way of the NFL world.
“He can move around,” said former UA receiver Dan Buckner of Scott. “And in this day and age with the Russell Wilsons and Cam Newtons and RG IIIs, even Andrew Luck can move around. Matt’s one of those versatile-type quarterbacks and he can throw the ball.”
Scott had 506 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, and tested well at the NFL Scouting Combine. Out of 13 quarterbacks at the combine, he had the third-best 40-yard dash (4.69 seconds) and the top time at the 3-cone drill (6.69 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (3.99 seconds).
But he appeals to NFL scouts because he can throw, too.
“Matt runs pretty good,” said former Arizona quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo. “But he’s not a running quarterback. He’s a quarterback that just happens to be able to run pretty good. He’s not going to make a living running the football. He’s going to make a living throwing it. “
When Scott didn’t get the playing time he was promised, he could have transferred. If he had, it would have been understandable.
But Scott stuck it out. He sat behind Foles for most of two years. He then redshirted another so he could play at Arizona, and made himself some NFL money in the process.
“For a person like that to face adversity like he did,” said former Wildcats fullback Taimi Tutogi, “and come back strong this year, he’s a special player.”
That won’t go unnoticed by NFL front offices.
He’s a fifth-year senior, but of all the quarterbacks considered top prospects in this year’s Draft, Scott has the least game experience.
USC’s Matt Barkley started 47 games in four years. Scott started 17 games.
That inexperience can be looked at as a negative, but he performed just as well, if not better, than many of the quarterbacks in the Draft, despite his lack of experience.
“I think from a quarterback position it probably doesn’t help all that much,” Hallam said. “But there is an unknown there, there’s an upside, a little more that can be learned that he hasn’t had the opportunity to do. That’s why a lot of teams have shown some interest.”
Two things against him
One of the biggest question marks with Scott is his size. He was listed at 6-foot-3 and 196 pounds last year, but was listed at 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds at the NFL Combine in February. He’s bulked up, but he’s still a bit undersized for a NFL quarterback.
“I feel like it’s kind of irrelevant, but teams look at it as a big question mark when it comes to durability in games,” Scott said after his Pro Day. “It’s pretty big, just putting the weight on.”
This ties into the previous point. His footwork has been questioned too, but that’s improvable. At his size, Scott is at risk for injury. He suffered a concussion against UCLA on Nov. 3, which cost him one game, but Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s quote of one NFL scout has it sounding even more disconcerting.
“He’s had a bunch of concussions, which is a little scary,” McGinn quoted the scout as saying. “Three this year.”
One final prediction
Scott’s draft projections have ranged from the second round to the fifth, but I’m more third-fourth round leaning. For the sake of predictions, I’ll say fourth.
As for what team might be interested, there are a few.
But here’s my prediction. Scott will be selected by one of the following five teams this weekend: Philadelphia (good fit in Chip Kelly’s offense), Jacksonville (Scelfo, his old QB coach, is in the same role there) or one of Carolina/San Francisco/Seattle (all three have dual-threat starters, in need of a similar backup).